Short Response Essay


Write an essay that develops an argument about ONE of the short works of fiction we have read. Your argument should marshal one of these four types of

literary claims. Remember to also utilize relevant passages from the literary text to support your argument:

1. Formal/Structural Claim: These claims focus on some formal element of the narrative such as narrative perspective (i.e. third person

omniscient) or some reoccurring symbolism (i.e. The yellowing pages of sheet music indicates Johnson’s “ex-colored man’s” failure to become a ragtime

musician, but this important symbol also reflects the fading away of his racial identity)

2. Thematic Claim: These claims examine an important theme that organizes the narrative (i.e. the important moral ideal of female sexual purity

in Harriet Jacobs’sIncident in the Life of a Slave Girl; and the social distance that separate white women—the virtual embodiment of the Victorian

ideal of sexual purity—and black enslaved women who possess no control over their bodies or sexuality)

3. Historical Claim: These claims examine some aspect of the historical period or moment around which a novel or story is set. (i.e. Jacobs’s

slave narrative is part of a tradition of Abolitionist writing that utilizes the various rhetorical strategies of moral persuasion)

4. Theoretical Claim: These claims examine a theoretical concept or idea as a basis for reading/understanding/interpreting the story. (i.e. Black

vernacular theory with its emphasis on the ways in which black authors appropriated the discourse of black culture and the dominate discourse of

Christianity is no where more apparent than in Wheatley’s poem “To the University of Cambridge, in New England”)

1. Your paper must accord with standard MLA guidelines for format and citation.
2. Your paper must be typed and double-spaced using standard Times New Roman 12 font.
3. Your first page should include a title and a standard heading that includes your name, course name, professor’s name, and date.
4. Your title should evoke an original idea or guiding concept; for instance: “The Irony of the Sublime in William Wordsworth’s I wandered lonely

as a cloud”. In other words, no generic or non-specific titles such as: An Analysis of The Sky is low-the Clouds are mean.
5. Number each page except for the first with your last name appearing before the page number as the header (eg. Tyler 6).
6. Do not include a separate title page or put your paper in a binder.
7. Use standard in text parenthetical citations as per MLA guidelines.
8. If quoting three or more lines of text, use a block quote.